Reports revealed on Thursday that US President Joe Biden intends to stop calling US immigrants “aliens,” replacing it with the term “noncitizen.”
This step is considered the latest move in the fight over language, related to immigration and immigrants, which is also part of a sweeping immigration bill proposed by Biden in his first two days in office
Biden’s administration is unveiling the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, including a number of radical measures such as an eight-year path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, immediate green cards for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients.
Immigration activists and lawmakers have condemned the “illegal alien” term, battling over language related to immigration. However; the term has long been used in US immigration law, and the language became even more commonplace under Donald Trump’s administration.
“The language change on the first day of this administration, with Kamala Harris the daughter of immigrants, to me it’s not just symbolic…it’s foundational,” Jose Antonio Vargas, an undocumented immigrant, said.
“How we describe people really sticks. It affects how we treat them,” Vargas added. “How we talk about immigrants shapes the policies. It frames what are the issues really at stake here. It acknowledges that we’re talking about human beings and families.”
“We were in the Trump administration the perennial boogeyman,” he stated. “Whenever Trump was in trouble, he started talking about the ‘illegals’ and talking about the border.”
In an interview with the Washington Post, published shortly before he resigned as acting secretary of Homeland Security in 2019, Kevin McAleenan told the newspaper he avoided using the term “illegal aliens” and instead described people as “migrants.”
“I think the words matter a lot,” McAleenan affirmed. “If you alienate half of your audience by your use of terminology, it’s going to hamper your ability to ever win an argument.”